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The Partially Examined Life

Author: Mark Linsenmayer

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The Partially Examined Life is a philosophy podcast by some guys who were at one point set on doing philosophy for a living but then thought better of it. Each episode, we pick a short text and chat about it with some balance between insight and flippancy. You don't have to know any philosophy, or even to have read the text we're talking about to (mostly) follow and (hopefully) enjoy the discussion. For links to the texts we discuss and other info, check out www.partiallyexaminedlife.com.

We also feature episodes from other podcasts by our hosts to round out your partially examined life, including Pretty Much Pop (prettymuchpop.com, covering all media), Nakedly Examined Music (nakedlyexaminedmusic.com, deconstructing songs), and (sub)Text (lit, film, psychoanalysis). Learn about more network podcasts at partiallyexaminedlife.com.
426 Episodes
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On Albert Camus' existentialist novel The Plague. How shall we face adversity? Camus gives us colorful characters that embody various approaches. Yes, the plague is an extreme situation, but we're all dying all the time anyway, right? Join Mark, Wes, Dylan and Seth to tease out Camus' positions from this bleak yet colorful text. Don't wait for part two; get the unbroken Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL!
The recently memified NBC Montana reporter joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss news as entertainment, local news consumption, its uses and abuses, reality vs. media portrayals of reporters, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com.
Continuing on the Poetics from around 335 BCE, on the structure of plot (every element must be essential!), the moral status of the heroes, Homeric poetry, the difference between tragedy and history, and how Aristotle's formula may or may not apply to modern media. Begin with part one or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Structure of a Tragedy" by Mark Lint. Read about it. Sponsor: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service.
Parasite, K-Pop, and K-Dramas have reached the U.S. as part of Hallyu, an official Korean effort to expand cultural influence. Suzie Hyun-jung Oh joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to decode the zeitgeist in hopes of understanding films like Snowpiercer, A Train to Busan, The Burning, A Taxi Driver, etc. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com. Sponsor: Visit sunbasket.com/pretty and use promo code pretty to get $35 off healthy, delicious meal deliveries.
These notes from 335 BCE are still used in screenwriting classes. Aristotle presents a formula for what will move us, derived from Sophocles's tragedies. What is art? The text describes it as memesis (imitation), and tragedy imitates human action in a way that shows us what it is to be human. Aristotle has lots of advice about how to structure a plot optimized to our sensibilities. Join Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth to see if you think he's right. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsor: For 20% off and free shipping on Ettitude's CleanBamboo Charcoal sheets, text PEL to 64-000.
In light of Star Trek: Picard, Brian, Erica, Mark, and Drew Jackson discuss our most philosophical sci-fi franchise. What makes a Trek story? How do you world-build over generations? How did Picard measure up? Plus Trek vs. Wars and step-children like The Orville and Galaxy Quest. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com.
Continuing on Cavell's essay "The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear" (1969), shifting away from Lear in particular to a more general discussion of tragedy and Cavell's psychological insights. Begin with Part One or get the ad-free, unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Out of Your Hands" by Gretchen's Wheel, i.e., Lindsay Murray, as interviewed for Nakedly Examined Music #81. Sponsor: Visit TheGreatCoursesPLUS.com/PEL for a free trial of unlimited learning at $10/month w/ a quarterly plan.
On Cavell's essay "The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear" (1969). Can money buy you love? What is tragedy? With guest Erin O'Luanaigh. Don't wait for part two; get the full Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL!
Steve started fronting Cockney Rebel in the early '70s and has released a dozen albums of of narrative-driven, tuneful songs. We discuss "Compared with You (Your Eyes Don’t Seem to Age)" and listen to "Only You," his two originals from his new solo album Uncovered (2020) then look back to "Faith & Virtue" from Stranger Comes to Town (2010) and Cockney Rebel's "Bed in the Corner"/"Sling It" from The Psychomodo (1974). Intro: "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel from The Best Years of Our Lives (1975). Learn more at steveharley.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon to get the ad-free feed. Visit masterclass.com/EXAMINED for 2-for-1 on MasterClass All-Access Pass.
Heavily watched media like Bombshell, The Morning Show, Unbelievable, and 13 Reasons Why attempt to cover sexual assault and harassment while still entertaining. Does that work? Erica, Mark, and Brian consider what makes for a sensitive as opposed to a sensationalized portrayal. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com.
How should we think politically about the current global crisis? Do extreme circumstances reveal truths of political philosophy or do they reinforce whatever it is we already believe? Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan talk about applying philosophical insights to real-life situations rife with unknowns, John Rawls' veil of ignorance and Adam Smith on our interconnectedness, utilitarianism, libertarianism, and more. A source we used was "How Coronavirus Is Shaking Up the Moral Universe" by John Authers. For an ad-free version of this episode, become a PEL Citizen. Please support PEL! End song: "Date of Grace" by Rob Picott, as discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #80. Sponsor: Visit TheGreatCoursesPLUS.com/PEL for a free trial of unlimited learning at $10/month w/ a quarterly plan.
On "Scorekeeping in a Language Game" (1979) and "Truth in Fiction" (1978). Lewis's account of possible worlds can be applied to conversation: As we speak, each sentence adds to the "conversational score" (the set of assumptions that enable us to understand each other) while reducing the field of possible worlds that the picture we're painting together could potentially represent. What are the gravitational forces within this kind of scorekeeping? Also, when an author creates a fictive "world," how do facts about that world logically relate to those of the actual world? With guest Matt Teichman. Start with part 1 or get the unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Real Life" by Matt Wilson, as interviewed for Nakedly Examined Music #118.
Chris fronted Gunbunnies in the early '90s and was then a member of Skeleton Key, but he's best known for being half of the production team Elegant Too. Since 2014 he's released two solo albums. We discuss two songs from 2012's New Store No. 2, the title track and "Most of What I Know I Learned from Women." We then talk about Elegant Too's work with They Might Be Giants (feat. Doughty) on "Mr. Xcitement" from Mink Car (2001) and also working with St. Vincent on the Bob's Burgers tune "Bad Girls" (2013). We conclude with Chris's "Imaginary Man" from Arkansas Summer (2016). Intro: "Stranded" by Gunbunnies from Paw Paw Patch (1990). Outro: Elegant Too's theme for ESPN's 30 for 30. For more see maxwellsongs.com and elegatnttoo.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon to get the ad-free feed. Sponsor: Visit betterhelp.com/nem for 10% off your first month of online counseling.
On Ch. 4 of Lewis's book Counterfactuals (1973) and the essays “Scorekeeping in a Language Game” (1979) and “Truth in Fiction” (1978). What makes a sentence about possibility true? Lewis things that we need possible worlds that really exist in order to make sense of our modal intuitions. He uses this possible world talk to make sense of conversations and the worlds created by fiction writers. With guest Matt Teichman from Elucidations. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now! Please support PEL! Sponsor: Visit TheGreatCoursesPLUS.com/PEL for a free trial of unlimited learning at $10/month w/ a quarterly plan.
Continuing on The Spirit of the Laws (1748) by Charles Louis de Secondat, aka Baron de Montesquieu. Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth talk more about the "motive force" behind each type of government and the separation of powers. Begin with part 1 or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "King of the Hill" by MINUTEMEN. Listen to Mark interview Mike Watt on Nakedly Examined Music #108. Be sure to check out The Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast.
Do we need professional critics regulating our entertainment intake? Noah writes for The Washington Post, NBC News, The Guardian, Slate, Vox, The Atlantic, etc., and he now joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about the function of criticism, criticism as art, and the joy of negativity. We talk 1917, Midsommar, Marvel vs. Scorsese, Yesterday, Bob Dylan, Twilight, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com.
On The Spirit of the Laws (1748) by Charles Louis de Secondat, aka Baron de Montesquieu. What keeps a society functioning? Montesquieu, though of course not the first political philosopher, was perhaps the first to systematically explore correlations between characteristics of a government, its people, its climate, dominant industries, religion, and other factors. Some of his ideas directly influenced the American Constitution, and some of them are very very weird. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now! Please support PEL! Sponsor: Visit TheGreatCoursesPLUS.com/PEL for a free trial of unlimited learning at $10/month w/ a quarterly plan.
Do you play video games for the plot? Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by former video game professional (current TV development exec) Donald E. Marshall to talk through types of video game narrative, ways of weaving story into a game, balancing gameplay and storytelling, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com.
Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth summarize thoughts about our recent series on social construction, gender and sex, and Judith Butler's notion of "grievable lives." Should we stop covering so much contemporary work and/or political topics? End song: "The Size of Luv" by Mark Lint from Mark Lint's Dry Folk (2018). Sponsor: Get your first month of hair loss prevention medication free at keeps.com/pel. Get this and every episode ad-free with a PEL Membership. Please support the podcast!
Continuing on Benjamin's "Critique of Violence" (1921). Mark, Wes, and Seth keep trying to figure out this difficult essay. Is Benjamin really advocating a workers' revolution to end the state, or just reflecting on a hypothetical to explore the limits of the concept of violence? According to Judith Butler's interpretation of the essay, the takeaway is the alternative to motivation through force, i.e. speech, which Benjamin (in other essays) gives some religious significance, but the way he actually concludes the essay is in a discussion of "divine violence" as somehow transcending means-end analysis and the corruption inherent in violence. Begin with part one or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Jericho" from hackedepiciotto, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #116. Sponsor: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free month of unlimited learning with The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service.
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Comments (11)

Valente Pozas Sr.

To the two pastors... to question your faith is not dangerous... it may actually strengthen it.... something we should never take for great... I was raised southern Baptist and accepted Christ at age 7 and 60 years later ... I still dig into the good word to learn and to strengthen my faith. Valente Pozas 781.234.8843 vpozas@yahoo.com

Apr 12th
Reply

Brad Pasbjerg

The content is great, using it on this platform is awful for going through all episodes since you only get previews. I have paid for the monthly subscription, but this is my preferred way of listening which turns me off to the podcast.

Apr 9th
Reply

Ali

Awesome subject, poor sound quality

Jan 26th
Reply

Bharath T

"The unexamined life is not worth living" - Gotta agree with Plato/Socrates on this one. Sure, putting your life on the line for such an ideal sounds stupid,but considering the mindset of most of the people back then it almost makes Socrates a romantic hero. People didn't start questioning the authoritative beliefs. almost everyone from the past 3-4 generations probably started questioning the existing social fashions and having philosophical conversations. Makes me wonder if Socrates had been born in our generation with the same traits as he did, would he be so iconic a figure? To sum it up, Socrates was an asshole of a person considering his failure to serve those he needed him But also a romantic hero for going out flipping the finger to the authority. Loved the episode. Most other philosophical podcasts seem to have a one dimensional opinion on Socrates. You guys put a lot on the table. Cheers!

Jan 23rd
Reply

Pat Maloney

Now im interested in reading Chekhov. And the podcasts of course.

Apr 20th
Reply

Andrew Oliver

There were no seatbelts in Camus' time.

Mar 26th
Reply

Nuage Laboratoire

text

Jan 28th
Reply (2)

Ambient Cello

me too

Apr 4th
Reply

Ezra Fickov

favorite 😸

Mar 10th
Reply
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